State lawmakers react to local school budget deficits

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-23 19:15:23-05

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- It has not been good news out of area school districts recently with Chesterfield, Richmond, and Hanover all reporting budget shortfalls.

Chesterfield estimates it will have a deficit of more than $3 million dollars, Hanover's deficit will be around $5 million dollars, and Richmond will have a deficit of $11 million dollars.

While that may appear like a local problem, the state does play a role in funding education.

So what do leaders on Capitol Square think of the reported deficits?

"We're working on our end to provide reforms and more flexibility on the local level," State Delegate Chris Peace, a Republican from Hanover, said.

Peace says he is listening to the concerns of school districts like Hanover however he emphasized that the state is not solely responsible for education funding.

"Teachers are a local responsibility, education is delivered locally," Peace said.

That philosophy concerns some Hanover parents  who are looking for a little extra help to make sure teachers do not get cut.

"I don't think it is the state's whole responsibility, but I feel like they can do more - I mean these are our children we're talking about," Carolyn Davis, a Hanover parent, said.

Democrats argued that education needs more funding and that new taxes should be apart of the conversation.

"We need to tell folks if you want top notch schools you need to put money behind them," State Senator Barbara Favola, a Democrat from Arlington, said.

Governor McDonnell has put forward several education initiatives this session aimed at reforming education.

Those reforms have been endorsed by the Virginia Education Association but Meg Gruber, the organizations President, expressed some concern over parts of the legislation.

"We just want the state to pay its fair share," Gruber said.